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John Monfredo: 10 Ways to Motivate Kids to Do Better in School

Saturday, January 04, 2014

 

Setting academic goals can help motivate, energize, and focus students, believes John Monfredo.

As we enter the New Year, 2014 it’s time to reflect and look at ways of helping our children succeed in school. Study after study has shown that parental involvement is the key to how well all children do in school. The time and energy spent with your children is a factor in how successful they will be in school. Children are our most precious resource and our future so let’s do all that we can to give them the necessary tools. Setting academic goals can help motivate, energize, and focus students. Here are some ideas I’d like you to consider:

1. Have an environment in your home that encourages learning. This will be a major influence on how well your child does in school. Provide them with a variety of opportunities to become excited about learning. Have puzzles, paints, drawing paper and computers available for them. Do all that you can to stimulate their curiosity.

2. Put a limit on electric devices. Children need to feel loved and need to know that there are rules to follow. Be sure that you have established routines for children to get enough sleep (depending on the age – between 8-9 hours), eat regular nourishing meals (fruits and vegetables daily) and receive sufficient exercise. PLEASE limit excessive TV viewing and the playing of video, computer games and the use of cell phones.

3. Read to your children every day (seven days a week). Most of the learning your children do in school centers on reading. Read for enjoyment, read to expand their vocabularies and broaden their experiences. There is no higher goal than to pass on literacy and the love of reading to the next generation. Parents are a child’s first and influential teacher and you need to model good reading in the home.

4. There is a need for your child to read often. As your children progress through school, research states that as much as 75% of what they learn will come from the printed page. The more children read, the better their reading skills become. Make sure there are a wide variety of interesting materials in your home to encourage the reading habit. The National Adult literacy Survey stated that children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.

5. Organization skills needed in 2014. Children who are organized find it much easier to succeed in school. Adults need to be the models and show their children how to use such organizational tools as assignment pads, calendars, notebooks, binders and backpacks. One specific idea is before bedtime to have your child place all completed homework and books into the backpack and then place the backpack on the kitchen table or next to their coat. This ensures leaving in the morning without stress in looking for books or homework assignments.

6. Teach children effective study skills and how to tackle homework. First of all encourage children to have a regular time for studying and provide a study place that is free of distractions. No excuses, for the bedroom or even the kitchen table may be used. Designating an area of the home that can be identified as the “Homework” Area will develop the discipline needed to form good study habits. The key is having everyone in the house know that it’s study time and the TV needs to be shut off! Make sure your children understand their assignments for they this will prepare them for future tests. Teach them to use their time efficiently, and if you can, quiz them on any work to help them understand their assignments.

Doing homework reinforces what your children learn in school. Show them how to do it so that homework quickly becomes their responsibility. If they seem lost, contact the school and ask for help. Help your children learn what assignments to do first and how to plan their time. Encourage them not to rush their homework but to consider every assignment a learning experience. Teach them the importance of “pride” and have them always give their best effort. Again, it’s essential that you establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Another good strategy is to have your child do the hard assignments first. This will mean your child will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

7. Urge your child to listen and participate in class activities. Listening in class is essential. If your child is easily distracted let the teacher know. Some of these children learn best by sitting facing the teacher. Again, be an active advocate for your children and talk to the teacher about their educational needs. Advise older children to take notes, which will help them concentrate on what is being said. Asking questions and participating in class will greatly increase their interest in what they’re learning.

8. Show your child that school is a priority. When asking about what they did in school today, don’t be satisfied with the answer, “Same old thing.” Your children spend six hours a day in school and a great deal of learning goes on during that time. Show that you are genuinely interested in their day by asking questions about what they did and review their papers that are sent home. One idea at mealtime is to have the conversation center on what’s happening in school. Be sure to encourage your child to discuss homework, class work, report cards, and academic goals with you.

9. Be sure to connect with your child’s teacher. Good communication between the home and school helps children do well in school and makes it easier to address problems. If you can find the time try being a volunteer at the school even if it’s only a few times during the school year. Be sure to attend parent-teacher conferences and if there are problems occurring make an appointment quickly to see their teacher. As with all of us, it’s important to express your appreciation to your child’s teacher and thank them for taking an interest in your child.

10. Four things that parents control at home. The following, according to research, do make a difference in how well your child does at school. (1) Student attendance is essential. We all know that children do contract illnesses during the school year so be sure to gather the assignments missed and have your child complete those assignments. However, do emphasize the importance of good school attendance in your home. (2) The variety of available reading materials in the home is important. If you need additional books for your child to read, DO visit the Public Library. The books are free and there are lots of choices. (3) Limit the amount of TV the children watch. My advice, during the school week is one hour of TV per day only. (4) As mentioned before, please READ to your every day and work on having your child write daily such as by having a daily journal at home. In addition, be sure that all the children at home read at least 20 minutes a day including weekends.

Hopefully, these suggestions will be of some assistance to you. Parenting is not an easy job and you can’t follow a parent manual to do the right thing. Parenting is the most rewarding profession in the world but it requires lots of love, hard work and a bit of common sense to get you through the day. Good luck and Happy New Year!

 

Related Slideshow: AP Opportunities at Worcester’s High Schools

According to ProPublica, studies have shown that students who take advanced classes have increased chances of attending and finishing college. However, with the number of advanced placement (AP) courses offered at Worcester's public high schools varying significantly, not every student is given the same chance. The slides, below, show the Worcester public high schools whose students have the most and least AP opportunities to help them get into - and graduate from - college. 

The below data were collected from the Civil Rights Data Set, released by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Right, and refers to the 2009-10 school year. The data were analyzed by ProPublica. 

Prev Next

Worcester Technical High

AP Courses Offered: 3

AP Pass Rate: 15%
Inexperienced Teachers: 15%

Students Who ...
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 59%
Take At Least One AP Course: 6%
Participate in Sports: 19%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Univ. Park Campus School

AP Courses Offered: 4

AP Pass Rate: 21%
Inexperienced Teachers: 6%

Students Who ...
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 76%
Take At Least One AP Course: 22%
Participate in Sports: 56%

*University Park Campus School includes the 7th and 8th grades.

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Claremont Academy

AP Courses Offered: 5

AP Pass Rate: 14%
Inexperienced Teachers: 16%

Students Who ...
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 94%
Take At Least One AP Course: 16%
Participate in Sports: 18%

*Claremont Academy includes the 7th and 8th grades. 

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Burncoat Senior High

AP Courses Offered: 10

AP Pass Rate: 42%
Inexperienced Teachers: 16%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 56%
Take At Least One AP Course: 20%
Participate in Sports: 34%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

North High

AP Courses Offered: 11

AP Pass Rate: 23%
Inexperienced Teachers: 5%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 75%
Take At Least One AP Couse: 13%
Participate in Sports: 25%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Doherty Memorial High

AP Courses Offered: 11

AP Pass Rate: 38%
Inexperienced Teachers: 14%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 47%
Take At Least One AP Course: 15%
Participate in Sports: 43%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

South High Community

AP Courses Offered: 14

AP Pass Rate: 26%
Inexperienced Teachers: 13%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 73%
Take At Least One AP Course: 28%
Participate in Sports: 28%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Worcester School District

Avg. AP Courses Offered: 10

AP Pass Rate: 30%
Inexperienced Teachers: 13%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 66%
Take At Least One AP Course: 16%
In A Gifted/Talented Program: 10%

ProPublica analysis

Prev Next

Massachusetts

Avg. AP Courses Offered: 10

AP Pass Rate: 64%
Inexperienced Teachers: 12%

Students Who …
Get Free/Reduced Lunch: 35%
Take At Least One AP Course: 15%
In A Gifted/Talented Program: 9%

ProPublica analysis

 
 

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